21. The Subject-Object Tangle
Bhakti is not a mere pretension or emotionalism.
In the thirteenth chapter, you have an extremely interesting statement:
My devotee, knowing this, enters into my being. (13:18)
He who claims to be the devotee of God becomes one with him.
There is a deluded feeling of independence from God, (the totality), and that disappears.
All descriptions are infantile, ineffectual attempts at describing what is impossible to describe.
You do not 'become' God, but you will share his nature - your actions will not be your actions but his actions.
Your existence will not be something that is independent of the totality.
There will not even be an experience of being independent of the totality.
That which never existed ceases to be.
A bunch of words which have absolutely no meaning, yet that is the truth.
Thus the field, as well as knowledge and the knowable have been briefly stated. (13:18)
In this chapter is revealed a tremendously important truth and that falls into what, to our present state of misunderstanding, appears to be three different categories: ksetra, jnana, jneyam.
Ksetra means 'the field', jnana is highest knowledge, jneyam means the knowable and that which is to be known.
What is knowledge is described, what is to be known is described.
But who is this knower who knows all this?
The Bhagavad Gita is full of unanswered questions.
When a question is answered in a clear-cut fashion, you have destroyed the spirit of enquiry, the only instrument that you have of reaching enlightenment.
That insight with which it may be possible to reach this point of enlightenment is snuffed out immediately an answer is given.
There is a very interesting incident in the Yoga Vasistha.
After Vasistha had explained in so many different ways with stories and illustrations, that the world as you experience it is not the truth, he said: "This is all accidental and even that famous law of cause and effect operates because ... (b-cause) you think there is a cause, and then you see (c) cause!" That is the a.b.c. of cause and effect!
There may be none.
Rama said: "If you and I are both non-existent, then who are you and who are you teaching?"
Vasistha remained absolutely silent.
Rama taunted: 'Why are you silent?'
Then Vasistha made a most beautiful statement: "Rama, I did not keep quiet because I could not answer your question, but silence was the only answer."
Krsna says a lot, but everything that he says raises a question, and does not always provide an answer.
This body, O Arjuna, is called the field; he who knows it is called the knower of the field by those who know of them i.e. by the sages. (13:1)
What is 'this body'?
The body of Arjuna, of Krsna or the (cosmic) body described in the eleventh chapter?
Do not ask. You will find out.
The word 'body' does not merely mean an assembly of physical parts or physiological mechanisms, but the body of anything.
Within this thing called physical body there are a million bodies and yet this whole thing is one body - an extension of that is that the society is a body of people, a nation is a body of people, the earth is a body of living beings.
What applies to one applies to all.
Do you feel puzzled and mystified?
If you are afraid of confusion, you can never discover the truth.
A complacent existence - 'God is there somewhere above the roof and I am alright', is a living death.
That which is alive and vigorous is worried, 'What on earth is this body which is talked about here?'
He who knows this, is the knower, the ksetrajna - knower in the sense that he knows the ksetri, the field.
In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad Yajnavalkya is asked: "When the sun is set, and the stars are not seen, and there is no light, and nobody makes any noise, what is the light in which you function?"
That is the light of the atma!
It is so simple, so clear, and yet so impossible!
That, in this body, which knows from moment to moment that 'this is my right hand, this is my left hand, I am sitting on my bottom, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am drowsy', is ksetrajna.
What the field is and of what nature, what are its modifications, and whence it is and also who he is and what his powers are hear all that from me in brief. (13:3)
Instead of using the words 'field' and 'the knower of the field', one can use the words 'object' and 'subject'.
The body is an object in relation to the subject that is aware of the body.
If you contemplate upon this, with one stroke, you have worked out a remarkable miracle - something has been disconnected from the body.
When you directly realise that, 'I am aware of the body' as 'I am aware of this shirt', you realise that the body is an object.
The great elements, egoism, intellect and also the uninanifested nature, the ten senses and one (mind) and the five objects of the senses (13:5)
Desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the power that holds the elements together, intelligence, fortitude - the field has thus been briefly described with its modifications. (13:6)
Hope, desire, love, hate, happiness and unhappiness are all the objects.
Something else is aware of all these.
All this is the field or object, and there is a subject.
Who is the subject?
The same subject/object are referred to differently in verse twenty.
In the production of the effect and the cause, the nature is said to be the cause; in the experience of pleasure and pain, the soul is said to be the cause. (13:20)
Here the object is called prakrti.
Things happen in this universe, and those happenings are brought about by different agencies.
This is a most difficult point to understand, because of our habit of using the mind and the intellect to understand this.
You are writing with that pen.
Writing is the action, pen (or your hand) is the instrument.
There is certainly an awareness of writing.
Here even that is brought into the field of object.
The paper is an object, pen is an object, the arm is an object, but even that which thinks 'I am writing' (ahamkara) is an object.
If you understand that, you are enlightened!
Can you get rid of that ahamkara?
If you do who is going to write?
It is part of nature (prakrti).
Can you get rid of your nature?
What does it mean?
Does the tree suddenly become something else?
A tree is a tree - that is its nature.
It stands there gloriously without any bother, worry, anxiety or fear.
The eyes see, the ears hear, that is natural - but whose nature?
Does my nature belong to memory or the 'me'?
Krsna says: "No"; it looks like that, but it is not so.
The soul seated in nature experiences the qualities born of nature; attachment to the qualities is the cause of his birth in good and evil wombs. (13:21)
There is consciousness within you.
If that consciousness was not there, then the nature would not operate.
In a manner of speaking, it is the consciousness that becomes aware of the diverse experiences and expressions, and that consciousness is uninvolved in those expressions and experiences.
But you think you are involved.
Attachment to the qualities is the cause of his birth in good and evil wombs. (13:21)
Though it is the power in the eye, the faculty of seeing, that sees, you cannot avoid entertaining the idea that 'I see' however much you struggle.
Why is it so? Because of habit. Birth after birth you have done this. It is merely a habit.
If somehow you realise this truth directly (not as a teaching or a concept), you realise that the eyes see because of their faculty, and the thought 'I see' arises because of a bad habit.
Suddenly the whole thing ceases.
You are no longer caught.

The Bhagavad Gita - Introduction | EN

Swami Venkatesananda

The Song of God - Introduction - Swami Venkatesananda - enlarged 4th edition – 1984 - published by The Chiltern Yoga Trust, Cape Town, South Africa
1998 - 2017